You’re 2 hours into a raid, one final charge, and sweet, sweet victory is yours, huge but, your boss is literally around the corner. Like the warrior that doesn’t go down easy that you are, you take a deep breath, sword at the ready, barging through the dungeon doors, then freeze! Connection drop did it again, and while stranded outside as your team takes the spoils, you’re probably thinking it’s probably time to get the best modem for gaming.
Dropped connections and lag spikes are a gamer’s worst nightmare. Just a single-second delay can waste away your hours-long MMO encounter or ruin that competitive FPS game. Fortunately, this can be fixed by having the best gaming modem in your arsenal. The best modems for gaming are built to provide a stable lightning-quick connection to keep you in the game and always ready for action.
Some come as a modem router combo but paired with the right router, gaming modems specifically designed for gaming guarantee you a low-ping, fast connection experience. On the downside, none of it will matter if your internet connection is also slow. Also, the generic router and modem that your internet service provider gives you don’t stand a chance in giving you the stable, fast connection you need for your gaming experience.
What is A Gaming Modem?
A gaming modem is a piece of hardware that’s specifically designed to handle large data transfers, has fast and reliably stable internet, and gives you the best connectivity options for the best online gaming experience. Once all set up, you can either plug in directly to your modem or pair it up with a router for wireless internet.
a) How Do They Work?
Modem is short for modulator-demodulator. They generally function by modulating (that is, translating) digital data and analog signals as they communicate with each other. Simply put, modems serve as the waypoint for internet connection by modulating analog signals and demodulating computing actions across cable lines.
This may be a bit too technical, but all you really need to know is that you’ll need a quality modem for fast and stable online gaming.
b) Benefits of Using A Gaming Modem
- Speedy connections maximized on multiple downstream and upstream channels to provide you with the fastest Mbps (megabits per second) available
- Reliable performance with the latest and fastest technologies today such as DOCSIS 3.0 or DOCSIS 3.1 technology for consistency in connection
- Versatility since gaming modems are designed to work with all the major internet providers and routers
- Specifically built for gamers so, most gaming modems come with great convenience in features like smartphone apps for configuration as breezy as ever
c) Types of Gaming Modems
Before buying your gaming modem, always check whether it’s compatible with your ISP. Most works with all the major ISPs like; Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox in the US; Sky, TalkTalk, and BT in the UK.
- The DSL modem is the most common type of modem in the market. The internet service provider uses phone lines to bring internet to your home
- Cable modem is more popular in the US, and cable internet providers use cable television networks to provide access to the internet
- Satellite modem communicates the with satellite transceivers
- Gigabit modems are high-speed modems that are geared towards large business operations and offer professional-grade internet service plans
On the other hand, many ISPs rave up their feature-lacking modems as the magic bridge that grants you access to hours of internet and unbridled gaming while pocketing a stupefying monthly rental fee while at it. But you really don’t need to settle for bare-bones with modems that only do just about what they need to do.
On the contrary, reputable third-party modem mainstays will cost you much less in the long run and still give you better gaming-geared features designed to deliver the reliability required for competitive gaming.
Here are some hand-picked modems for gaming that rank high in the ‘best modems for gaming’ list that we’ve scoped out on the top features that they have to offer.
The Netgear Nighthawk CAX80 comes at a hefty price, but there are no other modem and router combos that rival the power and footprint to match the cutting edge of this home internet device for gamers.
Let’s start with the fact that this unit is a gaming modem router combo that conveniently integrates a Wi-Fi 6-ready gaming router with Wi-Fi speeds up to 6,000 Mbps to an in-built DOCSIS 3.1 and 32×8 channel bonding cable modem with internet speeds of up to 10,000 Mbps.
Jargon aside, this router and modem combo allow it to deliver fast cable internet speeds, both hardwired and wireless, so now you won’t need to rent an ISP-vetted modem or own a standalone router. Additionally, it can efficiently support up to 8 devices simultaneously at top fast speeds. With this, you’re practically looking at seamless online gaming and also streaming videos in 4K on different devices simultaneously, free of latency at minimum lag.
The Netgear Nighthawk CAX80 is compatible with major service providers, has 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 2 multi-gig ports for 2.5G wired connections, a 3,00 square feet Wi-Fi range, and a great selection of gaming-friendly features such as a Smart connect optimal band selection. It further glides on the top spot with its easy setup Nighthawk app, VPN support, and in-built antivirus and anti-malware protection.
- The modem supports Wi-Fi 6
- Router with download speeds of up to 6,000 Mbps + cable modem with up to 10,000 Mbps
- Latest DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem
- Supports 32×8 channel bonding
- Wi-Fi coverage of at least 3,000 square foot
- Has 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 2 multi-gig ports for 2.5G wired connections
- Compatible with major internet service providers
- Easy setup Nighthawk app
- VPN creation support
- In-built antivirus and anti-malware protection
- Large bulky unit
- Relatively pricey
As a gamer who’s seeking the best gaming modem money can get, the NETGEAR Nighthawk CM2000 should be your top choice. As the lead in the Nighthawk lineup, this modern gaming modem gives high speeds that go up to 2,500 Mbps. It is also famed for its simple and quick plug-and-play setup that perfectly syncs up with all the major ISPs, including Cox, Comcast, and Spectrum.
With its impressive features, you get fast data transfer and consistent internet for both occasional and competitive gaming. It comes with an Ethernet port to let you hook it up to your router via Ethernet cables, and you’ve got yourself a serious online play.
It does cost a pretty penny, but none other can beat the kind of technology that’s packed into this unit, which includes DOCSIS 3.1 and 40 combined ( 32 downstream and 8 upstream) channels. With great customer reviews in the tens of thousands, this is the ideal modem for serious gamers.
- 32 downstream and 8 upstream channels
- Suited for Wi-Fi 6
- Compatible with all internet providers
- Designed for cable internet plans that can go up to 2.5Gbps
- Latest DOCSIS 3.1 technology that's future-proof
- Immediately boosts speed after installation
- Quite responsive
- Comes with only one Ethernet port
- Relatively pricey
Yes, you need a fast connection, but you don’t have to sell a kidney for it. The ASUS RT-AX86U is definitely another great router option for you. This gamer router gives you top speeds up to 2700 Mbps.
Additionally, it also supports the latest Wi-Fi 6. This connection standard ensures that your router can simultaneously handle multiple connections, so other people connected to that same internet won’t slow you down.
Some gamers prefer a hardwired game system for consistency in connection, but this router provides a reliably steady connection if you’re going to need a wireless network. In addition, with the ASUS AiMesh support, you can create seamless and flexible connectivity in your entire house by adding other routers that are AiMesh compatible.
- Gigabit Ethernet port for gigabit Ethernet speed
- Supports Wi-Fi 6
- ASUS AiMesh network support for a seamless and flexible connectivity
- It is a wireless dual-band gigabit router
- 3x3 support for gaming and streaming
- Has an included lifetime internet security
- Included parental control feature
- Includes MU-MIMO and OFDMA
- Lacks reliable network prioritization features
Lag will make you want to pull out your hair. The Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 is built to ensure that it never gets in the way again. With the DumasOS 3.0 operating system, this router will capably reduce ping rates by 93%, at least to give you a nearly lag-free online gaming experience.
Additionally, this gamer router also supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 wireless standard and dual-band connections for top speeds even when other devices are simultaneously connected to the router. As for security, this router allows guests access to Wi-Fi, can create a personal VPN with an in-built antivirus and anti-malware protection.
- Efficiently reduces lag
- Fast wireless speed of up to 5.4Gbps
- Supports Wi-Fi 6
- Allows guest access to Wi-Fi
- Can create a personal VPN
- Has an in-built antivirus and anti-malware protection
- DumaOS 3.0 system that optimizes server connections
- 4 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 1 x 3.0 USB ports
- Doesn't have a tri-band connection
The Motorola MB8600 modem is another of the best gaming modems that assure you of a steady connection with fast upload and download speeds that few other cable modems can match. It basically works with any major internet service provider as an in-built compatible DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem.
Other than the assurance in giving you incredibly top transfer speeds, it also comes with multi-gigabit support. This means that you can connect to multiple devices via its gigabit Ethernet port and still get top-notch internet connection speeds. If you prefer to go wireless, this gaming modem supports most protocols.
- Amazing and fast internet connection speeds
- Supports multiple gigabit connections
- DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem that's also DOCSIS 3.1 compatible
- ISP vetted and approved for connection with Comcast, Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Cox, etc. internet cable providers
- Supports internet speed up to 1000 Mbps
- 1 gigabit Ethernet port
- Doesn't come with a 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port
If you love gaming, you love power, and there is no shortage with the ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300. This is a tri-band connection router that’s basically unmatched and guaranteed to give you top speeds even when there are multiple devices connected simultaneously.
It also comes with 8 GB Ethernet ports. Other than the great speed, ASUS goes all out with additional features such as creating your own VPN and enjoying the in-built protection of Game IPS, antivirus, and an optimized tri-band connection with a ROG game dashboard. The latter feature gives you full control over the network you’re on with traffic prioritization.
- Tri-band gigabit wireless connection to support different devices connected at the same time, all at top fast speeds
- Reliable top gaming speed
- Full control of the network with traffic optimization
- Quad-core CPU
- WTFast game accelerator
- 8 GB Ethernet ports
- AiMesh compatible network system
- Lifetime internet security
- Doesn't come with Wi-Fi 6 support
The Motorola Multi-Gig MB8611 modem is a DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem that sports the latest DOCSIS 3.1 technology. Combined with a 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port, it provides you and the entire house with lightning-fast internet speeds. This modem works with every major cable provider and is ideally designed for 1 Gbps plan packages.
The MB8611 comes with Motorola’s Active Que management system that helps reduce latency and provides stable connection throughout. All this is backed by a 2-year guarantee of fantastic customer support.
- Guarantee of fantastic customer support should any need arise
- Easy installation so you won't need to use a cable company
- Active Que Management for traffic prioritization and to intelligently reduce latency
- Approved use with Comcast, Xfinity Gigabit, Cox Gigablast, Spectrum, etc.
- 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port
- Only 1 Ethernet port
The TP-Link Archer C5400 v2. is an updated and powerful wireless router that’s bound to give you amazing top speeds at more than 2 Gbps. On top of that, it’s a tri-band connection that allows multiple connections on high data activities simultaneously. This means you can comfortably play your online game with minimum lag while watching a 4K video at the same time on different devices without any interruptions.
It has a dual-core 1.4GHz CPU and 3 co-processors to help manage and prioritize traffic so no slow-downs even when other people are connected to the internet at once. As for security, it allows you to set up your personal VPN to help you stay safe and connected. In addition, with a guaranteed 2-year warranty, you’re assured of great customer support with any problem you may encounter.
- Reliable, fast speeds
- Tri-band connection for multiple connections at more than 2 Gbps
- Traffic prioritization tools
- Allows creation of personal VPN
- 2 years warranty and great customer support
- Doesn't support Wi-Fi 6
Linksys(CM3016) cable modem is a reputable and great budget modem option that offers DOCSIS 3.0, 4 upstream channels, and 16 downstream channels. With its integrated Intel Puma 6 chipset, the Linksys modem can support speeds of up to 680 Mbps from all major internet provider companies with great stability.
Used alongside cable internet routers or with cable providers, this modem gives you amazing top speeds. At its affordable price, it helps you cut down on costs in the long run.
- The modem has a plug-and-play functionality
- DOCSIS 3.0 modem
- The modem is compatible with all major cable provider companies
- Affordable price
- Stable high speed
- The high speeds work best in small spaces
The TP-Link Archer CR700 is also both a modem and a router budget option that’s a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem router. This modem and router advertises a maximum of 1750 Mbps speed across Wi-Fi but has a more realistic download speed of 680 Mbps.
At this download speed, the Archer has 16 downstream channels and 4 upload channels. It’s not the fastest compared to some on the list, but the fact that it’s a budget 2-in-1 has a lot going for it.
It also comes with a 2-year warranty and customer support as an affordable option for gamers who are looking for a reliable modem router.
- Affordable price
- DOCSIS 3.0 modem at 680Mbps
- Certified use with Comcast, XFINITY, Spectrum, Cox
- An ideal plug-and-play installation that's simple for non-techies
- Slim and sleek design
- Runs hot
- Doesn't come with a smartphone app for configuration or monitoring
What Are the Main Differences Between Hard Disk Drive and Solid State Drive?
- Hard disk drives (HDDs) usually use spinning magnetic disks for the storage of data. Read and write heads, then change the data as required so that you can hear their spinning sounds. Conversely, solid-state drives (SDDs) usually use small gate transistors in cells that flip on/off based on the electric pulses. They’ve no moving parts whatsoever, thus the name.
- HDDs are significantly slower than SSDs in many scenarios; however, they’re cheaper when compared. The HDDs are also larger and more easily damaged. If the budget is tight and you need ad much storage space as possible, go with a regular HDD. Furthermore, if you purchase the drive mainly for long-term data storage and data backups, go with a regular HDD.
- HDDs are preferable for gaming when compared to SSDs.
Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best HDD for Gaming
1. Storage size
When looking for the best HDD for gaming, storage size is a major concern. Hard drives are usually popular among gamers due to their storage capacity. HDD users can easily install games that require a lot of storage, like Flight Simulator, Warzone, and Red Dead Redemption 2, concurrently with space to spare. As PC gaming becomes more demanding while moving to 4K, game sizes are also blowing up. What used to be the best 1TB hard drive for gaming is now a second or even third backup drive.
Furthermore, 2 TB of storage space on an HDD is becoming outdated. Some drive manufacturers produce drives with up to 16 TB of storage which is ideal for gaming. Though one can offer advice against putting all the data in a single storage capacity, you won’t have to worry about losing any saved games or other gaming content with the best drives for gaming.
2. Performance and speed
The best gaming hard drives need to have great performance and high read/write speed. No one wants to waste half of their day waiting for data to transfer. So, choose a drive that has the fastest possible speed under the HDD category. Transfer speed of more than 150MB/s is more than enough for an internal drive, while for the best external hard drive, 100MB/s speed is acceptable.
So, what affects your hard drive’s performance?
The speed at which the platters usually rotate is crucial. The best internal hard drive for gaming should operate at 7,200 RPM or faster. Anything less and game loading becomes much difficult. This speed can be problematic for 2.5 HDD gadgets installed on laptops and run at 5,400 RPM. However, since the last generation of game consoles popularized modding of storage space, most manufacturers are now offering fast small-form drives.
Furthermore, it isn’t about sheer speed. All those RPMs are useless if the hard drive doesn’t connect via a speedy interface. The external HDD standard is a USB 3.0, while it has to be a SATA III connection for internal HDDs. So the fastest gaming hard drive has to meet these requirements. Besides, if you intend to hook up your external hard drive disk to a console, it has to be USB3.0 compatible for smooth and exceptional gaming considering other factors constant. Anything slower, and you will have rough time gaming.
3. Intended use
Before you get the best hard drive for gaming, you need to know where you will be gaming from since the choice of the hard drive will significantly affect the performance of games. So, when choosing a hard drive, you need to stick to the parameters of the device:
- For PlayStation 3: All PlayStation 3 units have 2.5-inch SATA drives that you can replace and upgrade without hassle.
- For PlayStation 4: All PlayStation 4 units, including Pro and Slim, have 2.5-inch SATA drives that you can replace and upgrade without hassle. Also, they support external HDDs through USB 3.0.
- For PlayStation 5: At the writing time, you can use external USB 3.0 drives (or faster) on PlayStation 5.
- For gaming PC: Any HDD will function as long as you’re aware of the form factor of the HDD bays in your case and the types of connections on your motherboard. Once again, it is most likely 2.5 -inch for laptops, 3.5-inch for desktops, and possibly interface SATA connections.
- For Xbox One: The Xbox One usually supports external hard drives through USB 3.0, meaning you can even use any SSD. Unluckily, there is no easy way to replace the internal hard drive.
- For Xbox One X: The Xbox One X usually supports external hard drives through USB 3.0 as well, with a minimum storage size of 256GB. Unluckily, there is no easy way to replace the internal drive, which will tamper with your warranty.
- For Xbox Series X & S: The Xbox Series X &S usually comes with an expansion bay, great for the 1TB Seagate Expansion Card. The Seagate Expansion Card is optimized for use with the Xbox Series X/S. However, you can also use USB 3.0 or 3.1 external hard drives with the consoles.
- For Xbox 360: The original Xbox 360 usually uses 2.5-inch hard drives put within custom cases. You will need to purchase one of Microsoft’s overpriced replacements to upgrade or replace. Though you can use third-party hard drives, you need to apply them with Xbox-compatible firmware.
- For Xbox 360 S & E: The HDDs used in Xbox 360 S & E consoles are usually incompatible with the Xbox 360, and vice versa. The 4GB, hard drive models have internal flash memory that cannot be replaced or removed. Besides, you can upgrade the 250GB models to 500GB by buying one of Microsoft’s overpriced replacements.
4. Portability & durability
If you want an external drive for only backups that you will store at your home, network-attached storage (NAS) gadgets may be a great bet. They usually come as stand-alone wired devices on your local network, packing different drives and storage modes. QNAP, Synology, and Promise Technology are some of the manufacturers that specialize in NAS gadgets. Nonetheless, if you want to keep your HDD on you when out, portability is crucial. The HDD needs to be lightweight and compact, so you can stuff it in a bag or pocket to access it instantly and quickly.
However, most external HDD is far from weighty, and some are compact, providing huge digital storage capacity while still being pocket-size. Conversely, when HDDs are not very durable compared to SDDs, the best hard drive disk is durable in their way under the category.
Hard drive cache or buffer usually plays a vital role in the general performance of the device. Caching helps your HDD process information by briefly storing it in the memory before writing. It is particularly handy during multitasking as the hard drive usually makes some apps load faster if they are store in the cache. Besides, the bigger the cache, you will experience better performance.
Furthermore, nowadays, the difference between 32MB and, for example, 64MB cache drive is represented in some 10 percent faster loads of 64MB cache drives. Unfortunately, these differences are rarely noticeable by a common user. However, if you’re purchasing outdated second-hand drives with 8MB or even less cache, there is no reason to worry much. Additionally, if you can buy the HDDs with more cache, you won’t actually notice a significant difference even if you go for the ones with fewer MB.
Before buying the best HDD for gaming, it’s important to understand the connectivity of the hard drive. Internal hard drives usually provide interface SATA connectivity. Nowadays, interface SATA III is a standard though you might come across slower SATA II drives. If you can, however, we recommend you going for a faster interface SATA option.
Additionally, when it comes to external drives, they mostly provide USB connectivity. Though USB 2.0 is acceptable, it’s better to go for the hard drives with a USB 3.0 standard, leading to faster data transfer.
7. Internal hard drives vs. external hard drives
Another thing to consider when looking for the best HDD for gaming is whether you will use this drive externally to connect to different devices or house it in a laptop body/ desktop case. External HDDs are perfect for external storage, data transfers, and backups. They usually connect using USB 2.0, 3.0, or 3.1 with maximum transfer speeds of 60MB/s, 625MB/s, and 1,250MB/s correspondingly. USB 3.1 is preferable, especially if you are transferring hours of data every day.
Additionally, external HDDs are portable. You can share them between different computers effortlessly. Furthermore, you can plug one into a television or media center for direct media playback. Conversely, in all other scenarios, internal HDDs are preferable.
Note: You can use any data drive internally or externally. External HDDs are essentially internal HDDs put in a special protective casing. So if you purchase an external HDD, you can take it out of the casing and use it internally and vice versa.
When looking for the best HDD for gaming, especially external models, you need to consider security and privacy. If the data you intend to store on your external drive is sensitive, encryption is a wise idea. Many HDDs are compatible with software encryption solutions. However, if you take data security and privacy more seriously, you need to look for a hard drive with hardware encryption. You can also opt for a physical security system such as the pin-code input.
Furthermore, some hard drives come with sturdy casings to prevent any physical tampering. Luckily, this design usually makes it hard for anyone to access the memory chips in the hard drive physically.
Hard disk drives usually involve lots of moving parts that wear out over time and eventually break down. The unfortunate thing that can happen is a complete Steam folder because of failure or losing your gaming montages. That is why it is wise to look for a hard drive that has a long warranty. Also, it is better if an HDD is more durable than its warranty.
Warranties for hard drives are between two to three years. However, some manufacturers give extended warranties for particular, high-end hard drive models. Other manufacturers may add a money-back guarantee.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the Best Hard Drive for Gaming
1. Why would you purchase an HDD instead of an SSD?
Hard disk drives are the cheapest option on the market. Besides, when it comes to bulk storage, HDDs are the best option. If you are storing bulky files or a bunch of media, HDDs are the cheapest way to store them. Furthermore, barring that, you can go for an external HDD that you can use on multiple PCs.
2. What’s a good hard disk drive speed for gaming?
The best hard drive for gaming should operate at 7,200 RPM and preferably have at least 64 MB or 128 MB of cache. Also, the hard drive should be SATA 3 compatible or, in the scenario of portable hard drives, have a USB 3.0 connection. Before, drives ran at 10,000 RPM, but they are rare and very expensive to use in a gaming PC. Therefore, it would be best to get HDDs with more cache and support for the fastest connections.
3. How many gaming HDDs can your PC or desktop support?
Your PC can support as many hard disk drives as it has SATA ports. These connectors are usually found on the edge of your motherboard. Besides, most motherboards have different SATA connections that you can use for either HDDs or SSDs.